Last night, at the 75th annual Golden Globes awards ceremony, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave media groundbreaker Oprah Winfrey the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. Winfrey’s win is historic, as she is the first black woman to receive it.
Her acceptance speech, however, is every bit as historic as her win, in my opinion. Oprah has had years and years to hone her public speaking craft, and her delivery was flawless. It was natural, though surely she rehearsed it, it was emotional yet carefully controlled so that her words took front and center, and it was a meaningful narrative, weaving Oprah’s personal history with stories of women marginalized because of their race, gender, or both.
And, finally, it was full of goosebumps-inducing HOPE.
Now I am not a member of the church of Oprah. I respect her for her amazing talent and her philanthropy, as she has consistently put her money where her mouth is time and time and time again. I don’t agree with her religion (or lack thereof) and she and I differ politically on several issues, but…I respect and appreciate her a lot. And this speech was just one more example of why.
If you didn’t watch it, I HIGHLY suggest you do (I’ll embed it below), but here are some key quotes and takeaways for moms, dads, Christians, and humans in general that should NOT be missed.
2017 is they year women spoke up about sexual harassment and were finally HEARD.
Winfrey says, “I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.”
Abuse of women doesn’t just occur in Hollywood
Winfrey acknowledges that these famous women have opened the doors for regular women like you and me, “women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.” Despite all that has happened this year to mete out punishment to men in power who sexually assaulted women, the truth is that in this country, getting justice for ANY sexual assault is still difficult, and sexual assaults are still under-reported out of fear or shame. I PRAY that the tide started by these famous women this year will lead to more justice for ALL women of any race or income level in the future.
Time is UP for those who would use their power to assault women and never be punished
The goosebumps came for me during this part of Oprah’s speech: “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.” The statement is powerful but it’s important to watch Winfrey’s speech and understand what came before it: the story of Recy Taylor, a black wife and mother who was abducted and raped by six white men when walking home from church one day in Abbeville, Alabama in 1944. Taylor never got justice, and it is important to note that while ALL women have been subject to sexual harassment, assault, and abuse from powerful men, women of color have had to wait much, much longer for any kind of justice, for their stories to even MATTER to many people. Time is UP for those who would abuse another based on gender OR race.
Our girls need to know that “a new day is dawning”
Another goosebump moment for me, not just as a woman but as the mother of a daughter, was this one: “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.” I believe a new day IS dawning, but this new day cannot dawn without us continually speaking up, and teaching our daughters to do so as well. They need to know that we’re in the fight with them, and that their dads are too (I appreciate Winfrey pointing out that some “pretty phenomenal men” were in the fight, too. I sure do personally know a lot of good men). Like Oprah did in her speech, we need to point our girls to examples of how things went very, very wrong in the past as we help them look toward a future of equality.
And, speaking of those phenomenal men…
It is up to us as parents to raise our boys to treat women correctly
I realize that none of us plans to raise an abuser, but for many of us, that is what WILL happen if we don’t teach our boys how to respect and treat women. For me as a Christian, this starts with Christ’s commands to love others more than ourselves, and to put others FIRST. This principle, taught and practiced in your home, is a great start to raising sons who see women as equals to be respected, rather than objects made for their enjoyment. Which leads me to my next point: all parents should do everything we can to keep our kids away from porn. Science shows that porn changes your brain, and that boys and men who watch porn are more likely to see women as objects who enjoy sexual violence. In addition, women who watch porn are more likely not to VIEW sexual violence as a crime or report it. Parents, I cannot underscore enough IN CAPS OR BOLD how IMPORTANT this is for your child’s sexual and relationship health, as well as for the health of our society at large. Talk to your kids about porn, make rules for internet use, and CHECK THEIR DEVICES OFTEN.
If you haven’t watched Oprah’s speech yet, do yourself a favor and give it your time today. It’s well worth your time.